Aire/Stellplatz: DOLUS D'OLERON Route du Stade (Poitou-Charentes)
GPS Decimal: 45.91179 N -1.25463 W
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Per night: 5 Euros, 7 nights for 30 Euros, pay by card at service post near entrance, or attendant when they come round to check tickets. No maximum stay.
Unlike the Aires at Chateau d'Oleron and Saint-Denis d'Oleron, this is not an ex-campsite with toilets and showers, but it costs less, there is no maximum stay, no automatic entrance barrier, and in addition to a tarmac hard standing it offers the chance to park on a spacious grassy area that is set some way back from the nearest road, so it's child safe. As you can see from the page top photo it's quite extensive but isn't exactly busy, even in August. The location is more central than that of the other two Aires, so it's better placed for cycle touring of the island, especially the south-west coastline.
It's also the best option if you rely on your camper van (rather than foot, bike or bus) for mobility, as you can come and go as you please without invalidating your ticket. A ticket does not however guarantee you a parking spot, although I'd be surprised if that would ever become a problem at this spot. If an Aire isn't crowded in August, when is it likely to be?
On one side of the Aire is a sports ground, at the bottom is a radio-controlled car racing track (see left of photo), and on the other side is the Ileo Centre Aquatique (water park) which is one of the island's main vistor attractions. If you park next to the latter you will need to get used to the sound of heavy pumping equipment providing aquatic entertainment for their patrons, but elswehere on the Aire it isn't a major nuisance.
The nearby town of Dolus d'Oleron doesn't in all honesty leap out at you as being different to any other small French town, but it's there if you need the shops or somewhere to eat out. If you need a decent-sized supermarket you should head along the main D734 to either Chateau d'Oleron or Saint-Pierre d'Oleron.
As I've covered other visitor destinations and more general points in my other two Ile d'Oleron Aire reviews, I won't slip into rambling or repetition here. Just follow the links on the Guide page to find out more. Of the three Aires we visited on the island, this was the least busy and most flexible, even though it offered fewer bonuses like universal electric hookups and a shower block. It's easy to become spoilt by the Aires d'Oleron - remember that most French Aires are busy tarmac parking areas with tightly-packed bays, and they usually cost more than 5 Euros a night, so this one represents very good value for money.
On the subject of money, the service point near the entrance doubles as a parking ticket machine and it's not free. You can top up your battery via an electric hookup for a few Euros, and you also have to pay to refill your water. Some of these pay to use service points work on a timer, so I'd recommend you get your hose all set up in advance. Emptying waste is free of charge. If you're heading here from another Aire, fill up your water tank for nothing before setting off. I'm proud to report that through all the different Aires we've stayed on so far, we haven't yet had to pay for water. We once had to pay to empty the loo at a German Stellplatz but that's another story..
On the plus side: No barriers, enabling greater touring flexibility. Spacious grassy parking, so good value for money. More central location for walking/cycling. Next to a water park.
But: Ile d'Oleron is not very camper van friendly elsewhere. Not the ideal destination if you rely on your camper for mobility - better suited to cyclists. No showers or universal electric hookups here like you find at other Aires on the island.
Alternative Aires: Saint-Denis d'Oleron or Chateau d'Oleron at higher price, but with better facilities. Overnight parking is permitted in the E Leclerc supermarket car park at Saint-Pierre d'Oleron.
Around Ile d'Oleron: click thumbnail for bigger picture:
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